INSIDE EDITION's House of Shame series is putting more home repairmen to the test - this time to see if they give a fair deal for cleaning a home's air vents.
After hiding cameras throughout a rented New Jersey house, we called local technicians who were offering good deals to clean air vents, which can build up with dust, debris and mold.
What they didn't know is that we had invited in three experts: Mark Zarzeczny, Robert Weitz and Kenneth Balbi. Zarzeczny, ASCS, is a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association and chair of their anti-fraud task force.
They checked out the system, even using cameras to look inside. They concluded that there was some minor dust and the vents just needed a basic cleaning.
Then it was time to put the repair men to the test.
One technician, who had offered a deal to clean the whole air duct for $29, appeared to be more interested in checking out belongings in the home than the air duct system.
“He inspected the pool cue, longer than he inspected the unit,” one expert said while monitoring the situation from the control room.
Finally, the man took out a flashlight and peered inside for a couple of seconds.
“The dust is already in the system,” he told INSIDE EDITION’s Lisa Guerrero.
Despite his initial offer of $29, he wanted to charge $700 to clean and sanitize the system. That’s when INSIDE EDITION decided to let him know he’d stepped into the House of Shame.
But he stood by his estimation.
“That's what you need ma'am,” he told Guerrero. “The blower motor needs to be cleaned, it was dirty.”
But the experts told him they were watching and he never even looked at the blow motor. He then walked out.
INSIDE EDITION told another technician to go ahead and do the job, so he lugged his vacuum into the house.
But from the control room, our experts could see he wasn’t doing much, saying: “The vacuum should be on. It's not even on.”
In one room, he didn't even pull off the vent. Instead, he just sprayed the dust with compressed air. Up in the attic, he waved his air compressor wand for a second.
But when Guerrero went into the room to watch him, he appeared to work much harder, took the vents off and used his vacuum.
“I think he is just doing it to make a show of removing the vent in front of Lisa to make her believe he's done this consistently throughout the home, which he has not,” one expert said.
When she revealed she was with INSIDE EDITION, he didn’t stick around.
INSIDE EDITION’s ‘House of Shame’ series will show some home repairmen being tested over the coming weeks. Tune in throughout November to watch more of the investigation.
Tips on Air Duct Cleaning from the National Air Duct Cleaners Association NADCA
1. Cutting costs and saving money whenever possible is a priority for many homeowners - but determining when and where to budget the spending can be a bit of a challenge. Companies that offer products and home maintenance services at discounted rates can appear attractive, but consumers must be able to differentiate between the deals that are too good to pass up - and the deals that are just too good to be true.
It’s important to be cautious of the $39.99 type of advertisements for air duct cleaning and HVAC maintenance. It’s likely that the companies offering these highly-discounted deals aren’t offering full-service cleaning and aren’t performing up to the ACR Standard.
To help consumers determine whether or not a company is reputable, NADCA offers these tips:
• Verify that the company is a NADCA member with a certified contractor on staff.
• Ask for proof of license and insurance.
• Request that a system inspection be performed at your home, prior to hiring a contractor.
• Avoid advertisements and discounts for “whole house specials” under $100.
NADCA reminds homeowners that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), duct cleaning services typically - but not always - range in cost from $450 to $1,000 per heating and cooling system. The estimated cost of services depends on the size of the system being cleaned, accessibility to the unit, climactic region the level of contamination, and the type of duct material.
2. When looking to hire a company for cleaning your air ducts or servicing your HVAC system, it's important to select a reputable business that has gone through the NADCA certification process. As the HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association, NADCA is the leading organization for industry professionals. Companies with NADCA-certified technicians on staff are able to provide the complete service that aligns with the ACR Standard - the standard for the Assessment, Cleaning, and Restoration of HVAC systems.
Visit www.nadca.com to find a NADCA-certified professional to perform any cleaning or maintenance to your duct work and/or HVAC system.